If you share the widespread concerns over Zandvlei’s chronic litter problem but want to actually do something about it, then we suggest you add 064 518 6503 to your WhatsApp contact list. This number will connect you to Grace Coates, one of three local residents responsible for organising weekly litter clean-ups on the vlei.
Grace helped set up the group after her fellow organiser, Anna Wade, originally pitched the idea on the Muizenberg Notice Board Facebook group during lockdown last June. Both organisers had already been involved in anti-litter drives elsewhere, Anna in the Cayman Islands and Grace in Taiwan. The pair were subsequently joined by a third organiser, Mike Rix.
With so many people confined to their homes, the initial response from local residents was very encouraging. Many locals volunteered their time, and donations even enabled the organisers to reinforce the group’s voluntary efforts by employing people to work three-hour clean-up shifts. But with lockdown restrictions easing and more people returning to work, volunteer numbers have started to drop and donations have virtually dried up. “These days, around four or five volunteers take part in our mid-week clean-ups,” says Anna. “There are now 46 members in the WhatsApp group, but we are trying to get more members of the community involved in cleaning up the vlei. After all, if we don’t do it, who will?”
The clean-ups are timed according to the availability of people in the WhatsApp group. Currently, they normally happen on Wednesday or Thursday morning with evening clean-ups scheduled during the summer. There are also plans for a one-off Saturday clean-up when the time is right. Focus areas include the braai and entertainment areas along the Lakeside banks of the vlei and areas around the Zandvlei caravan park.
As Mike points out, the benefits of the clean-ups are not confined to physically removing litter. “Handling so much waste also helps to make people more sensitive to the problems it creates and encourages them to think about how they can help to offset those problems by, for example, making more environmentally aware choices when shopping. It’s all about taking personal responsibility.”
Of course, not everyone is in a position to become an active member of the group. But you may consider making a donation towards re-employing people to work three-hour clean-up shifts. Again, Grace is your best point of contact on 064 518 6503.